Dialectical Behaviour Therapy

DBT is a treatment method that is similar to cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) but emphasizes building skills to manage stress, mental health issues, and the psycho-social aspects of relationship building.

There is some indication that certain individuals are more prone to react intensely (sometimes seen as emotional flooding) to unexpected relationship or emotional situations. Many of these situations tend to be related to family or friend relationships. Part of the theory underlying DBT is that certain individual’s levels of psychological arousal fluctuate or increase significantly more quickly than others, and have an overall higher level of emotional stimulation, which tends to take a larger amount of time to return to general baseline levels where they can remain calm and more grounded.

A lot of individuals who have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder tend to choose DBT as the main method for working with these issues as it looks at improving interpersonal effectiveness, expanding awareness and mindfulness, aiding in emotional regulation and improving distress tolerance skills which are underdeveloped in individuals with this disorder. Also, because dysregulation leads to higher levels of suicidal ideation and/or self-destructive behavior, there is an emphasis on behaviors and safety. Focus on these key components is also important in the beginning stages of work using DBT for those with borderline personality disorder or traits.

The characteristics of DBT include being:

  • Support-oriented: helping a person identify personal strengths and build on them in order to help social skills and improve self-identity.
  • Cognitive-based… by helping to identify their thoughts, beliefs and actions that result in their distress and correct faulty ways of thinking.
  • Collaborative… Which explores the relationship between individuals and encourages individuals to work through their relationship issues and may also include more interactive activities while working with individuals to help improve those interpersonal effectiveness, mindfulness and distress tolerance skills.
  • Action and behavior oriented…by helping individuals make practical changes to their automatic behaviors that give them distress
  • Skill building…by helping individuals gain a variety of skills and techniques aimed at soothing, calming, and making conscious choices.

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) was developed out of attachment theory, based on the ideas generated from John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth regarding bonds between parents and children. Les Greenberg, and Sue Johnson worked together in the 1980s to develop a psychological theory based on the remarkable similarities in adult relationships. While Greenberg diverged to focus on individual therapy and emphasize internal dynamic processes (called Emotion Focused Therapy), Johnson developed Emotionally Focused Therapy primarily to treat couples. However, research now indicates that EFT is helpful for trauma, families, and individuals. Generally speaking, EFT is an empirically-based approach, which looks at emotions and emotional intelligence, which helps support stronger and more secure relationships by helping better understand how our actions impact others, and how our emotions drive our interactions. EFT believes that emotions are basically adaptive and guide our attachment needs, while therapy helps clients learn how to express these emotions in ways that facilitate bonding, tolerate and regulate them, while also making sense of those feelings expressed by others. EFT practice is also based on methods designed to help people accept, express, regulate, make sense of and transform emotion, thereby increasing their overall emotional intelligence. EFT is ultimately based on attachment and growth theory, whereby all individuals have an innate drive towards bonding and connecting.

EFT attempts to make deep emotional changes in individuals and relationships by shifting from fear and conflict to corrective emotional experiences. Clients are taught to honor their feelings and express them in ways that bring others closer and resolve their needs, rather than engage in patterns that push others away and leave attachment needs unresolved.

Want to learn more about this treatment method? Contact the team at Insight today.